"chech2" is the most disturbing thing I have ever seen.

chech2.mpg is a video file that has been passed around on the Internet for at least one year (as of fall 2002). It's shown up on Stile Project, without the opening title, as "chech.mpg". Its source is unknown.

It opens with a title in white on black, in a typewriter-like font, which says "Unknown Russian Soldier".

The file then cuts to an image of the Russian, in grainy but quite clear black and white video. We can see him from the neck up; he has a shaved head, and is lying on a bed of leaves or gravel. There is the front half of a black boot - the boot of a Chechen, as the story goes - holding him down by pressing against his cheek. There is the back end of a knife pressed against his neck.

The knife enters his skin, and quickly cuts across the front of his throat. The Russian gasps, calls out, and then succumbs to the wound with a low gurgling sound. The video quickly fades to a view of the Russian's upper body and the Chechen's lower body, and surveys the spray of blood across the ground. That is the end.

"Chechens are the best friends and are the worst enemies."
-Chechen Republic Online ( amina.com ), front page.

Does this justify the Russians, that the people they seek to subdue will murder a helpless captive? Absolutely not. To put this into perspective, here are a pair of quotes from Russian soldiers in their twenties stationed in Chechnya. (from http://www.amina.com/war/rusquote.html - I suggest you consult that page for some more detail)

"Without atrocities, we'll get nowhere in Chechnya. We have to be cruel to them. Otherwise, we'll achieve nothing."

"I would kill all the (Chechen) men I met during mopping-up operations. I didn't feel sorry for them one bit."

This is reality. This is what's going on in too many places around the world. The government of one nation believes it must control another, and by the circumstances of their enforcement the young men both nations send to fight become barbaric. It happened to Americans in Korea and Vietnam. Today we hear innumerable stories of dubious accuracy of what the soldiers of Israel have done to Palestinians.

But those are an entity apart to me from this video recording. That I can sit in my home and have the cruelty of man reproduced for me with as much verisimilitude as I could want is just a shocking reflection of how utterly detached and sheltered I and all inhabitants of the first-world can be from the brutality that exists outside our borders. This is probably the single most terrible thing I have ever seen, and the only place I've ever encountered it is traded as a novelty on the internet. There exists a version of the file where the video image is synchronized with the song "Cotton-Eyed Joe"; the violins come in just as the knife enters the Russian's neck.

I don't know what makes it so disturbing and frightening, really; that it's a symbol of man's boundless potential for cruelty, or that it's a symbol of man's supreme apathy towards that.